The 2018-19 Iowa Eight wrestling picks: Drake Ayala, Julien Broderson, Cade DeVos, Cael Happel, Caleb Rathjen, Aden Reeves, Cullan Schriever, Spencer Trenary. Cody Goodwin, firstname.lastname@example.org
During the first half of the 2018-19 wrestling season, Southeast Polk showed enough dominance to distance itself from the rest of Class 3A. These Rams are one of the best teams in the country, and traveled north this past weekend to compete alongside others with as much talent.
The Cheesehead Invitational in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, has been a staple in the Rams’ schedule and often features some of the nation’s best teams. This year was no different — Southeast Polk, ranked No. 14 nationally by Intermat, competed against a field that included No. 21 Simley (Minnesota), No. 23 Kasson-Mantorville (Minnesota), No. 25 Mount Carmel (Illinois), and No. 50 Stoughton (Wisconsin).
Ultimately, Southeast Polk took fourth, with 463 points. Mount Carmel ran away with the team title, with 601.5 points. Kasson-Mantorville (558) and Stoughton (468.5) finished second and third, and DeKalb (Illinois) and Simley rounded out the top six.
Lance Runyon and Cade DeVos led the Rams with titles at 152 and 160 pounds, respectively. Runyon rolled up three pins and two major decisions en route to first, and is now 26-0 this year. DeVos scored a pin and three major decisions to move to 25-0. He beat Arrowhead’s Josh Otto, ranked No. 20 nationally at 170 by Flowrestling, in the finals by a 3-2 decision.
This performance was just another example of what most of us already know — that Southeast Polk is dang good. In the most recent Predicament rankings, the Rams are far and away 3A’s best team with 12 ranked wrestlers, including three No. 1’s (Runyon, DeVos and Gabe Christenson, at 195). Waverly-Shell Rock is second, with eight.
That depth and talent was on display at the Cheesehead. Behind Runyon and DeVos, Christenson took second at 195, losing to nationally ranked Blah Dahnweih of DeKalb in the finals. In total, eight Ram wrestlers finished in the top nine at their respective weights, which was the second most in the tournament behind Mount Carmel.
The crazy thing is, Southeast Polk turned in this performance without perhaps its strongest lineup. A couple of usual starters didn’t compete, which perhaps limited the Rams’ point-scoring potential.
It is easy to imagine the Rams would’ve been much closer to the top had they been at full strength, and that’s a scary thought for the rest of Class 3A.
Iowa recruits also shine at the Cheesehead
A trio of Iowa recruits — Ryan Sokol, Patrick Kennedy and Zach Glazier — also compete at, and won, the Cheesehead Invite.
Sokol, Iowa’s first and only 2021 commit, rolled to a title at 132 pounds. The Simley sophomore rolled up two pins, two technical falls and one major en route to first. He outscored his six opponents 70-17, racking up 27 takedowns — or 4.5 per match.
Kennedy, perhaps the centerpiece of Iowa’s 2020 haul, went 6-0 and won at 170. Ranked No. 4 nationally, the Kasson-Mantorville junior racked up three pins and three technical falls. None of his matches reached the third period.
Glazier, one of two signees for the Hawkeyes in 2019, has scored bonus points in each match on his way to first at 182. Ranked No. 14 nationally, the Albert Lea senior scored two pins, two technical falls and two major decisions.
Mason City’s Cullan and Colby Schriever were also in action. Competing at 120, Cullan went down with an ankle injury in his first match and did not finish the tournament. Colby went 3-4 and finished 10th at 138 pounds.
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Waverly second, Denver fifth at The Clash
Six Iowa teams competed at The Clash, one of the nation’s toughest dual tournaments, this past weekend. The only other state with more teams was Minnesota — which makes sense, considering the tournament was held at the RCTC Regional Sports Center in Rochester.
Of the six Iowa teams, three of them — Waverly-Shell Rock, Denver and Waukee — finished in the top eight.
Waverly, ranked No. 44 nationally by Intermat, took second, finishing only behind No. 27 Oak Park River Forest. The Go-Hawks went 4-2 over the two-day event, and finished ahead of No. 44 Shakopee (Minnesota) despite losing to them head-to-head (tiebreaker in the finals).
Two Go-Hawk wrestlers made the all-tournament team — Aiden Riggins and Jacob Herrmann. Riggins went 6-0 at 106 pounds with two pins, one technical fall and two major decisions. Herrmann also went 6-0, at 160, with four pins, one technical fall and one major.
Denver entered The Clash with the smallest enrollment in the 32-team field — last year, Denver had an enrollment of 169. It mattered little, as the Cyclones, ranked No. 2 in Iowa’s Class 1A, went 4-2 and finished fifth overall. Waukee, ranked fourth in 3A, took eighth, going 2-4. Senior Anthony Zach went 5-1 at 170 pounds and collected his 150th career victory.
Denver actually beat Waukee head-to-head on Saturday, 33-27. Both teams won seven of 14 bouts, but the Cyclones won thanks to four pins. Behind them, Bettendorf went 4-2 and took 13th, North Scott went 3-3 and took 18th, and New Hampton went 1-5 and took 24th.
Check out Abe Assad's nasty headlock
Another Iowa recruit was in action at The Clash. Abe Assad, a 2019 signee and the No. 2-ranked 182-pounder in the country, went 6-0 for Glenbard North, which finished 17th overall. Assad rolled up five pins, including this nasty headlock against Anoka’s Bruce Muehlhauser.
Rathjen-Oldham II highlights Ames tourney
The Jack Mendenhall Invitational highlighted the in-state action over the weekend. West Des Moines Valley, ranked No. 3 in 3A, won the team title behind titles from Caleb Corbin (145) and Blake Underwood (170). But there were plenty of notable individual results.
The marquee matchup came at 126 pounds, where Ankeny’s Caleb Rathjen and Valley’s Nick Oldham wrestled again. The two met in last year’s state finals at 113 pounds, where Oldham won a thriller, 10-8. Rathjen returned the favor, 3-1, earlier this season at the Johnston/Valley Invite.
In the third rendition, Rathjen again came away victorious, rolling up three takedowns to win 7-4 in the Mendenhall finals. Rathjen, a sophomore, scored two in the first and another in the third. Oldham, a senior, nearly had a takedown on the edge midway through the second period when he trailed 4-3, but Rathjen wiggled free.
These two may still clash a couple more times this season. Ankeny and Valley will cross paths at both the CIML tournament later this month, and there's also a potential matchup awaiting in the postseason, perhaps in the state finals again — which would be a treat for all wrestling fans.
Rathjen wasn’t the only Ankeny wrestler to win a big match. Trever Anderson, ranked No. 2 in 3A at 106 pounds, pinned top-ranked Ethan Wood-Finley of Iowa City High in the semifinals. Anderson went on to beat Pocahontas Area’s Jacob Mielke by a 12-1 major in the finals.
Ankeny is rounding into form as we enter the backstretch of the regular season. Behind Anderson and Rathjen, Cael Cox (113) took second to Prairie’s Austin Kegley and Sam Kallem (132) took third, losing only to third-ranked Conrad Braswell, also of Prairie. Add in Mark Ames (120) and Derek Anderson (138) in the coming weeks, and the Hawks will look dangerous at the right time.
Don Bosco edges West Delaware at Benton
At the Battle of Waterloo last month, West Delaware toppled mighty Don Bosco in a dual format, which was something of a surprise after the Dons’ hot start to the season. This past weekend, at the Jerry Eckenrod Invitational in Benton, Don Bosco got revenge in a tournament setting.
The Dons piled up 227.5 points to win the team title, beating out West Delaware’s 214 points. Both teams put their depth on display — Don Bosco finished with three champs and six other top-four finishers; the Hawks had one champ and five more finalists.
Don Bosco jumped into Intermat’s Fab 50 national rankings — currently at No. 46 after its incredible start to the season, and perhaps the Dons are the favorite in Class 1A, despite Denver’s depth and Lisbon’s firepower. Expect a barn burner of a team race in February.
But West Delaware is more than just a stacked dual team, and this weekend proved that. Prairie City-Monroe is No. 1 in 2A by the Predicament, and West Delaware sits at No. 2. Those two have emerged as the frontrunners in what was considered a wide-open class.
Lisbon's Robert Avila hits a slick takedown
Lisbon’s Robert Avila Jr. won the 53rd annual Tripoli Invitational over the weekend, part of the Lions’ second-place team finish. The freshman recorded two pins and a technical fall en route to first at 126 pounds.
Avila became something of a viral sensation during his semifinal bout against South Winneshiek’s Chance Adams. He pulled out a jiu-jitsu roll into a takedown before pinning Adams in the first period. Many wrestling fans might recognize it as the “Imanari Roll.”
You can see it below. It’s pretty slick.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.